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  • AFD - GAO Reports on U.S. Pandemic Preparedness

    CIDRAP NEWS: GAO Report On State Pandemic Preparedness






    # 2190


    From Lisa Schnirring ofCIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy) News we get an excellent overview of the recent GAO report on how well states are preparing for a pandemic, and their need for more guidance from the Federal government.

    Here are just the leading paragraphs to this story, follow the link to read the entire article.






    GAO: States want more pandemic planning guidance


    Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer
    Jul 29, 2008 (CIDRAP News) ? Despite a wide range of pandemic planning guidance documents from federal and private groups, states say they still need more information from federal officials, particularly on community mitigation measures, fatality management, and supporting medical surge efforts, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported recently.


    The GAO released its findings on Jul 19 in a 52-page report posted on its Web site. Members of Congress had asked the GAO to describe how states and localities were preparing for a pandemic, along with how they handled their pandemic exercises, what they learned from them, and how the federal government can better assist state and local officials with pandemic planning.


    The GAO based its findings on visits to the five most populous states, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas, and ten localities within them. The localities included five urban areas?Los Angeles County, Miami, Chicago, New York City, and Dallas?and five rural counties: Stanislaus County, California; Taylor County, Florida; Peoria County, Illinois; Washington County, New York; and Angelina County, Texas. Taken together, the areas include a third of the US population and account for a third of federal funds for pandemic planning exercises, and they also are border areas or international travel hubs. All 15 of the sites had developed pandemic plans.
    (Continue reading . . . )
    posted by FLA_MEDIC @ 8:58 AM

  • #2
    Re: AFD - GAO Report on States' Pandemic Preparations

    October 1, 2008

    GAO Report On HHS Pandemic Guidance



    # 2347


    The United State's Government Accountability Office has issued a new report entitled - Influenza Pandemic: HHS Needs to Continue Its Actions and Finalize Guidance for Pharmaceutical Interventions (GAO-08-671 PDF File). The release date for this report was September 30th.

    The PDF file runs 77 pages, but but following is the GAO summary page. I've taken the liberty to reparagraph this section to improve readability.



    Influenza Pandemic: HHS Needs to Continue Its Actions and Finalize Guidance for Pharmaceutical Interventions


    GAO-08-671 September 30, 2008 Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 71 pages) Recommendations (HTML)
    Summary

    The emergence of the H5N1 avian influenza virus (also known as "bird flu") has raised concerns that it or another virus might mutate into a virulent strain that could lead to an influenza pandemic.

    Experts predict that a severe pandemic could overwhelm the nation's health care system, requiring the rationing of limited resources. GAO was asked to provide information on the progress of the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) plans for responding to a pandemic, including analyzing how HHS plans to (1) use pharmaceutical interventions to treat infected individuals and protect the critical workforce and (2) use nonpharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread of disease.

    To conduct this work, GAO reviewed government documents and scientific literature, and interviewed HHS officials, state and local public health officials, and subject-matter experts on pandemic response.

    HHS plans to make existing federal stockpiles of pharmaceutical interventions available for distribution once a pandemic begins. These interventions would include antivirals, which are drugs to prevent or reduce the severity of infection, and pre-pandemic vaccines, which are vaccines produced prior to a pandemic and developed from influenza strains that have the potential to cause a pandemic.

    HHS has established a national goal of stockpiling 75 million treatment courses of antivirals in the Strategic National Stockpile and in jurisdictional stockpiles. According to HHS, these public sector stockpiles are intended to be used primarily for the treatment of individuals sick with influenza.

    HHS intends to oversee the distribution and administration of pre-pandemic vaccine to individuals identified as members of the critical workforce. Members of the critical workforce--estimated to be about 20 million--include workers in sectors that are considered necessary to keep society functioning, such as health care and law enforcement personnel.

    HHS's strategy for using pre-pandemic vaccine is to keep society functioning until a pandemic vaccine--a vaccine specific to the pandemic-causing strain--becomes widely available. HHS anticipates that initial batches of a pandemic vaccine may not be available until 20 to 23 weeks after the start of the pandemic.

    As batches of the pandemic vaccine become available, HHS plans for state and local jurisdictions to provide it to members of targeted groups based on factors such as occupation and age, instead of making it available to the general public.

    HHS faces challenges implementing its strategy for using pharmaceutical interventions during a pandemic, including the lack of vaccine manufacturing capacity in the United States. HHS is currently making large investments to expand domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity.

    In 2008, HHS released guidance on prioritizing target groups for pandemic vaccine and draft guidance on antiviral use during a pandemic. HHS has not yet released draft guidance for public comment on prioritizing target groups for pre-pandemic vaccine.

    HHS will rely on state and local jurisdictions to utilize nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as isolation of sick individuals and voluntary home quarantine of those exposed to the pandemic strain. To assist state and local jurisdictions with implementing nonpharmaceutical interventions, HHS has developed guidance that describes the department's "community mitigation framework."

    The framework involves the early initiation of multiple nonpharmaceutical interventions, each of which is expected to be partially effective and to be maintained consistently throughout a pandemic. HHS faces difficulties, including helping jurisdictions develop ways to ensure community compliance. HHS is investing in several initiatives to increase the nation's knowledge about the general use and effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical interventions. The findings from this research will be used to update existing guidance.


    Recommendations

    Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Implemented" or "Not implemented" based on our follow up work.
    Director:
    Team:
    Phone:

    Marcia G. Crosse
    Government Accountability Office: Health Care
    (202) 512-3407

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To improve the nation's preparedness for a pandemic, the Secretary of HHS should expeditiously finalize guidance to assist state and local jurisdictions to determine how to effectively use limited supplies of antivirals and pre-pandemic vaccine in a pandemic, including prioritizing target groups for pre-pandemic vaccine.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: In process
    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.


    This report appears to have a good deal of up-to-date information regarding our vaccine and antiviral stockpiles, but the hour is late, and I won't be able to spend time reading it until tomorrow or the next day.

    I suspect there will be fodder there for a blog or two.

    In the meantime, the PDF file (1.2 mb) is available for download.

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